Supported by a Latin American Studies Chispa Grant in November 2013, Elsa Goossen ’15 traveled to Fort Benning, Georgia for the annual vigil and protest against the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC). The U.S. Army has trained Latin American military officers at the school since 1946, and its graduates have been responsible for some of the most notorious human rights violations in their home countries - massacres, assassinations, disappearances, torture, rape.
Elsa joined members of Veterans for Peace, Women against Military Madness, and students from other Twin Cities colleges for the cross-country bus trip. The group participated in a weekend of speakers, musicians, workshops, and demonstrations with nearly 2,000 other peace activists, culminating in a massive funeral procession to remember victims of the SOA. Although the school remains open, the persistent nonviolent demonstrations are working: five Latin American countries have stopped sending their troops to Fort Benning. As a first-time participant, Elsa particularly appreciated the opportunity to protest the effects of U.S. militarization in Latin America and promote transcontinental solidarity. She was the only representative from Macalester this year and she hopes to encourage more students to participate in the demonstration next November.